Are you a writer? Of course you are. You write emails, texts, possibly even a short note to a friend or family member. Should someone ask you if you’re a talker, you wouldn’t say, “Well, no, I don’t talk.” You have conversations, you’re a talker. Same with writing.
Except it’s not the same. Because instead of sitting down and writing, we become worried about the rules and the spelling and the various techniques for different mediums. There is validity in these concerns, but don’t let that stop you from writing.
And don’t let these five things not to do when writing for your website stop you. Just don’t do them. And don’t let anything stop you from writing.
1. Scream As Loud As You Can
(a.k.a. Be precise and clear)
When you wish to be heard over all the noise, you tend to raise your voice. When you scream as loud as you can, someone is bound to hear you, right?
In writing, this method of getting attention could be compared to stretching the truth, or writing just for SEO. Instead of writing titles and headlines using precise and correct information, the tendency is to claim the impossible and grab attention with clickbait words.
Writing “welcome to the funniest YouTube channel ever” is hyperbole that’s more accurately described with descriptive details such as “get your video-addiction fed here with side-splitting and off-the-wall humor.” The more you make extravagant claims, the more likely no one will listen.
2. Save Your Wittiness for Just the Good Stuff
(a.k.a. Bad news requires it too)
The same thing goes for your tone. Don’t stop at being precise and honest in your writing. Try being upbeat and friendly. Develop a tone that is inviting and unique to your brand. Take every opportunity to use your voice to stand out from the crowd.
Method soap, the “people against dirty,” take their honest and playful tone everywhere in their writing. On their foaming hand soap refill packaging, they describe getting the “foam party started” as “easy-peasy,” with “juuuuuust about enough to refill your bottle 3x.”
The party doesn’t end with the fun stuff. Method keeps the same tone for the not-so-fun-stuff, when it’s easy to slip into boring, more formal language. When a refill is no longer available, they write, “it’s a bummer when you want something, but can’t have it. like this product, which is no longer available. sorry.”
No need to go all dry and lifeless just because the news isn’t so good. Keep up with your charm and appeal and write like you’re offering to help no matter the situation.
3. Use Your Smarty Pants Side
(a.k.a. Be less technical/write like you speak)
Being smart is obviously a good thing, and sharing the things you know makes for great content. This is a reason your readers come back to your website, and a reason they could eventually choose your business when they decide to buy.
But they won’t keep coming back if they can’t understand you. And if they can’t figure out what you’re trying to sell, they won’t want to buy from you either.
The solution is to stop writing like you’re a walking textbook, or worse, a soulless automaton. If you’re writing like you speak and they still can’t understand you, then you’ve had your head in institutional sand for too long.
Remember who you’re writing for, and don’t use dry, formal language. If you’re concerned you will sound too informal or unprofessional, then you’re forgetting how spoken language has evolved to express our thoughts and feelings, and is as near to perfect that a form of communication can be. It involves natural emphasis, cadence, and rhythm. When we speak we sound angry, upset, happy, or worried. Speaking is much more direct and intuitive. When we write, we must try to communicate these nuances in order to be effective.
Michelle Schaeffer, known as the Girl Blogger Next Door, said one of the Three Big Blogging Mistakes You Can Avoid is to write like you were taught in English class. She said she forgot the all-important rule: “I didn’t understand that I was writing for readers, I had the wrong perspective on it.”
4. Use Your Best Digital Writing
(a.k.a. SEO is dead)
Writing for the internet is still writing for the reader. There are no shortcuts or freebies you can take to improve your site’s searchability. Your best digital writing is not about sticking in keywords and inserting links wherever you can to optimize your site.
Because there is no such thing as digital writing.
It’s true that there was a time when black hat sites figured out how to trick search engines into looking for their keyword-laden content. This created an atmosphere of SEO or sink, where site optimization with keyword stuffing was key.
Now Google hides the search words you type if you’re logged in, giving fewer keyword clues. Search engines today look for good content that best fulfills what people will like to read, not a labyrinth of poor navigation, design, and text.
In their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, Google says that “you should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what’s best for the visitors of your site. They’re the main consumers of your content and are using search engines to find your work.”
Sure, you’re writing for the web so you want to do your homework and pay attention to certain search engine requirements. But you’re writing for people first, and people want to read well-written, helpful content.
Write in a way that’s best for your site’s visitors. They’re the ones who are ultimately searching for and reading your content, not the search engines. Give them something they can consume with ease.
Let your inner writer go free. The worst thing that can happen is it won’t want to return.